Supreme Court to Hear About Frog that Never Was

Filed in Codes and Regulations, Land Development, Legal by on January 23, 2018 0 Comments

This Dusky Gopher Frog is posing for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s files.

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review a case concerning whether the federal government may designate about 1,600 acres of private property in Louisiana as “unoccupied critical habitat” for the endangered Dusky Gopher Frog – a designation that translates into $34 million in lost development value for the property’s owner.

Remarkably, the frog has not been seen in Louisiana for more than 50 years. Even more astonishing: The designated property does not contain the physical and biological features needed for the frog to survive.

However, both a federal district court and an appeals court upheld the Fish and Wildlife Service decision to designate the land, citing the service’s authority do to so under the Endangered Species Act.

The fundamental issue in the case concerns the proper interpretation and scope of this authority. “To our knowledge, the Service has not previously attempted to designate large areas of private property merely because they are theoretically restorable as habitat for a species,” said NAHB senior counsel Jeff Augello.

NAHB has been involved in the case since 2013, providing amicus support at both the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court. The association will continue its support now that the Court has agreed to hear the merits of this case. For additional information, contact Jeff Augello.


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